The Messenger - Serving Gislingham, Mellis and the Thornhams

In Conversation with... Gary Cobbold

Date: 16 March 2019

JN: So, Gary, another year, another challenge?

Gary: Yes, this is the 5th year I have raised money for the charity EACH. My other challenges have included a parachute jump, cycling 200 miles climbing the 3 peaks, and last year walking the 84-mile length of Hadrian’s Wall in 4 days.


JN: What is your challenge for this year?

Gary: It’s a 75-mile canoeing challenge on the River Wye. The River Wye is the 5th longest river in the UK and for much of the river’s length forms the border between England and Wales.


JN: When do you plan to do this?

Gary: We are starting the challenge on Thursday 2nd May in Whitney-on-Wye. The challenge will stretch over 3 full days on the river roughly aiming to complete 25 miles a day. We have over-night stops in Hereford and Ross -on -Wye and finishing in a little village called Redbrook in Gloucestershire. So, we are probably looking at 8 hours of canoeing for each of the 3 days.


JN: Where did the idea for this challenge come from?

Gary: I was just trying to set a fresh challenge and as we have previously done walking, cycling and parachuting challenges, so this wanted to do something totally different to the rest.


JN: Is it the same team as last year?

Gary: Yes, Ian Johnson, Graham Crisp, Scott Regan, Tony Bowling and myself.


JN: Surely not all in one canoe?

Gary: No, we have two Canadian canoes for the challenge. One is a two-man canoe and the other is a three-man canoe.

JN: I never realised you were keen canoeists. Is this a past-time past time you’ve kept a secret?

Gary: Canoeing is something I have only tried once at school so I hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew this time.

JN: How do you train for that? Mid-Suffolk is hardly the ideal location to get your Canadian canoes out at the weekends?

Gary: Training is definitely an issue especially as the authorities prefer you not to be on the water due to the temperature of the water this time of year. I have spoken to “Mr. Canoe Man” and he has arranged three training dates late March and running into April on the River Bure starting in Wrexham.

JN: All in all, it sounds a daunting task, have you planned this properly?

Gary: Well the team has been chosen, accommodation booked, and canoe hire booked. All we need now is practice on the water, I guess.

JN: What do you see as your biggest obstacles?

Gary: Toilet stops, and sore bums are likely to be the biggest issues.

JN: But presumably, you’ve planned a route via some picturesque riverside pubs on the River?

Gary: Of course! Our overnight stops have been planned as close to the river as possible, so we don’t have to carry our canoes into any town centres or along to many windy country lanes.

JN: It wouldn’t be a “Gary Cobbold Challenge” without an element of fancy-dress attire, or is this year an exception?

Gary: We are planning a fancy-dress day in the canoes so there may be a Captain Birdseye, or a Pocahontas costume being worn.

JN: How can people sponsor you?

Gary: We have set up a Just Giving page. Details below.